Jack’s Journey 2021

Jack’s Journey 2021 proved to be a success for the second year running, although down on the number of participants from 2020 and with there being no support vehicle in attendance the event still went ahead. Founder and Director of Hidden Warriors CIC Gavin and our very own Representative Lee Cox cycled over 320 miles in the 3 days that seen Five Poppy Wreaths placed at prominent memorials to those that lost their lives in service to our country or due to unfortunate events.

Plymouth Naval Memorial undergoing maintainance

As there was no support vehicle this year all the kit required for the journey had to be taken on the back of the bike, Wreaths included. We have no doubt that the sight of the Poppy Wreaths attached to our bikes received much more respect from those driving vehicles when they past us. It was something very different and gave us great pride in taking the Wreaths to their resting places.

The Poppy Bike

Day one, we set off from Plymouth after placing the first Wreath at the Naval Memorial and started the longest and what is arguably the most difficult days of the journey we headed for Portland. The sun was shining and we were both in good spirits until Lee realised that the 20% gradient hill he thought we would bypass was actually coming up at the 60 mile mark! Least to say, Gavin was not overly impressed. A very long day evolved and the planned Wreath laying at Portland Naval Cemetery was postponed until the morning as we did not arrive in Portland until 2030, we then found out the chippy we were very excited about had actually ran out of chips! Queue the not very happy but very hungry cyclists.

Day 02, Portland Naval Cemetery. Such a beautiful place overlooking the harbour the Wreath was laid to rest at Jack Mantle’s VC grave, a Royal Navy Sailor of the Second World War and Victoria Cross recipient. Once the Wreath was laid we set off for Portsmouth.

Jack Mantle VC

Day 02 of the journey was seen as the easiest day, relatively flat and only 96 miles! However, 3 punctures and a tyre split to Gavin’s bike had us needing to find a bicycle shop for spares and a new front tyre. Luck would have it that the bicycle shop was owned by a Royal Navy Veteran and he would not take payment for the new tyre or spares. Things were looking up as we got underway again, after dodging many horses through the New Forest the aches and pains and lack of refreshment started to catch us out. This is one of the most difficult things we found during the event, we couldn’t carry enough fluids and with the heat and sun we did suffer. Eventually we arrived in Portsmouth and at the Naval Memorial. We were met by supporters of Hidden Warriors CIC and Veterans, Allan Noble, Scotty Blue and Pompey Nobby plus his good lady Lisa. They waited very patiently as we arrived some 3 hours later than expected. Scotty Blue did the honours and laid the Poppy Wreath. A good nights rest was now needed for our 3rd and final day.

Lee Cox replacing inner tube

Day 03, aches and pains for us both. Painkillers at the ready and we are off to Chatham. The day began dry, what was to come was 6 hours of continuous rain and road closures that seen us have to navigate off our chosen course. Wet through for the entire of the day we battled on and rested/stretched when we had to. We wanted to arrive at a decent time to lay the last two Poppy Wreaths. However, time lost due to the bad weather and road closures it was dark when we arrived in Chatham. Then on route to the Gillingham Bus Disaster Memorial to lay a Wreath out of respect and remembrance to the 26 Royal Marine cadets that lost their lives in 1951. Only metres from the Memorial and in a cycle lane Lee got the first of two punctures he was to get in a matter of minutes. With the puncture temporarily repaired the Wreath was laid by a very cold and tired Lee. One more Wreath to go, Chatham Naval Memorial. It was dark, we were wet, cold and very tired but we did it. We paid our respects at the final destination. It felt like a relief but we also didn’t have time to reflect on our accomplishments as Lee headed one way to stay at his parents and I went the other way to find my accommodation for the evening. We both know that with all the challenges, physical and mental we achieved the aim.

Another Road Closure

Events like these always have many moving parts in the background. From all those that supported us leading up to the event and also watching and sharing our updates on social media we raised a fantastic amount in donations (£1531) and also increased awareness of Hidden Warriors CIC. To have those good people meet us in Portsmouth was also so heart-warming after a challenging day, support like that can never be under appreciated.

Thank you to our partners Tailored Branding for the fantastic cycle jersey design and for providing the very bright attire. This helped us to stay safe on the roads. Also, a thank you to Orbis EV in Stafford for being our official jersey sponsors. To have a sponsor on our shirt really helps us to achieve our fundraising targets but to also know we have support of a very reputable company.

This was Jack’s Journey 2021, it was a blast. Thank you everyone that got involved. If you would like to see the video updates from the event they can be found on our YouTube Channel. Hidden Warriors CIC – YouTube

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